Work travel has been increasingly getting in the way of my shooting and I did far too few shoots last year, so I decided to start this one by taking the opportunity of combining the two, arranging a shoot in the US on a recent trip. I’m a glass half empty type anyway, but I can’t help but mention all the challenges I had for my first run here. Firstly I managed to come down with a pretty nasty cold during the twelve hour flight and by the next morning I had to dose myself to the eyeballs on flu medication just to get out of bed. Secondly, I’d had a fantasy that I’d wake to find beautiful sunlight streaming through the windows, not least as this shoot was in Denver, a city that claims 300 days of sunshine a year. This wasn’t one of them. It was snowing. Hard. It was so dark in the room that even pushing the film to 800 with the lenses wide open I was shooting way below what’s safe to hand hold.
The lack of light also meant focus was a real challenge and,to top it all, the room was huge (larger than the average London apartment), so the light fell off even before it reached the bed. If that wasn’t enough, when I got back I found that the airport x-ray had fogged my colour film (Porta 400 pushed to 800, examples below) almost to destruction and created a significant increase in grain in the B&W. It’s acceptable on the medium format, but too much even for my taste on the 35mm (and I like grain). Hand baggage scanners are supposed to be safe for film up to 800, indeed they still have signs up claiming such, but information from Kodak seems to differ. They say film with an ISO or EI of 400 or more is at risk and that film that has been pushed (i.e. underexposed) as mine was is more at risk. I’ve not really had trouble in the past, but must have been unlucky this time. I’ll insist on a hand inspection in future. If you’re interested, Kodak’s full analysis of x-rays and film is here.
Anyway, whinge over, I was lucky that Corinne has a wonderful natural beauty so that even with the grain, I’m happy with some of the images. Cameras where a Nikon F3 and medium format Yahsica TLR. By the way, while looking for a bar, I did stumble across a nice little photography gallery, despite being told at my hotel that none existed in Denver. If you’re in the area, they had an interesting exhibition titled ‘One to One’. Details here.